Life in Balance: Ring in the New Year on a Beach
Trade snow for sand at these gorgeous destinations.
Why not bid farewell to the calendar year and the cold weather by celebrating New Year's Eve amid stretches of white sand and turquoise waters? Sip champagne while the waves lap the shore, then welcome 2013 by snorkeling, whale watching or simply soaking up rays.
Here are four tempting destinations.
Admire the fireworks during a New Year's Eve dinner cruise or at a traditional Polynesian luau, then spend the next day scoping out some of the 2,000-plus humpback whales that pass Maui on their annual migration from Alaska. Whale-watching cruises leave from Lahaina Harbor, but you can often catch sight of these magnificent mammals from land at McGregor Point or Kaanapali, Kihei and Wailea beaches.
Related resources: www.gohawaii.com/kauai; dinner cruises: www.prideofmaui.com or www.pacificwhale.org
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Grace Bay, on Provo's north shore, is a snorkeler's paradise, replete with sea turtles, dolphins, rays and more. The government has even mapped out snorkeling trails through the most scenic reef--the more adventuresome can dive among centuries-old shipwrecks. For an unforgettable end to 2012, catch the annual Junkanoo Parade, a procession of dancers and drummers in vibrant costumes and jeweled masks that sometimes lasts until dawn.
Related resources: www.turksandcaicostourism.com
Long Key, Florida
Escape the crowds by pitching your tent beachside and camping on this tiny jewel of a key. (It's just two miles long, and most of that is state parkland.) All 60 campsites overlook the ocean and are equipped with a picnic table, ground grill, water and electricity. There are three restrooms, all with hot showers. Pick up some fresh local seafood to grill (Long Key offers some of the region's best fishing), then toast marshmallows around the campfire until midnight.
Related resources: www.floridastateparks.org/longkey
Golden Isles, Georgia
Halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville lie the barrier islands of St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island,home to moss-draped oaks, historic mansions and spectacular golf courses. Dine and dance the New Year's night away at one of the area's exclusive resorts, such as The Cloister at Sea Island or the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Then start 2013 off by honing your game at one of Sea Island Golf Club's three championship courses.
Related resources: www.goldenisles.com hotels: www.SeaIsland.com or www.jekyllclub.com.